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Sneak Peek: ‘A Harnessed Heart vs A Hardened Heart’

Oxen pulling

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Jesus (Matt. 11:28-30)

VERY INTERESTING, (sorry to yell) in studying the use of the ‘yoke’, I came upon a training guide for those using ‘oxen power.’

Training Oxen Guide
A. >>Base for Training: Establish leadership quickly and firmly.
B. >> Rules of Training
1. Train regularly
2. Maintain control
3. Be firm. Insist on obedience
4. Be patient and understanding
5. Be consistent in everything you ask
C. >> Train with the yoke (or harness)
1. Teach ‘Turn right, Turn left.’
2. Teach Step In (step toward), and Step Out (step away)
3. Begin to pull loads
4. Work on giving animals a variety of tasks in a variety of environments.

OH MY! Read the list again, now from ‘God guiding and us following’ perspective. Does this not speak LOUDLY, as we come voluntarily, accept the yoke of Jesus. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – God speaking, Isaiah 30:21.   David shares of his God, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” – Psalm 32:8

Interesting.

I so appreciate Eugene Peterson’s translation of Jesus’ words regarding the yoke, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11:28-30 MSG)

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”  – Heb. 10:24) 

[Excerpt from Inspired Fountain Devotional Teaching, ‘A Harnessed Heart vs A Hardened Heart’ … Coming soon]

Tangled Hangers

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Patience.  I want it NOW, or maybe in the next few breaths, before my face turns a shade of red that would cause a paramedic to shudder upon approach.  My husband and I, together have begun to work through  the devotional book, “Praying the Attributes of God”, by Ann Spangler, and I mean ‘WORK’ through it.  One does not merely ‘read’ when you open your heart and mind to transformation.  We just finished the week-long journey of patience, looking at God’s patience with us.  OH MY GOODNESS!  “The Lord, the Lord!  The God of compassion and mercy!  I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”  – God, Exodus 34:6

In short, God does not grow frustrated with us like we do with others, things circumstances or … ourselves.  Taking all the geeky (good stuff) and putting it in a nutshell, patience can be translated ‘long-souled’ indicating ‘to be long of feeling, delay one’s anger.’  (YES GOD!  Be long-souled with ME!)  Quoting, Ann, “God is calling us to be long or large in spirit, willing to exercise faith WHILE we wait for Him to act.”  (emphasis mine)  Act God!

I have studied patience extensively, but implementing it consistently is a whole other realm, like that of a Sci Fi novel.  It takes twists and turns, facing new beasts demanding strong use of weaponry, (can you ‘see’ it?)   In the devotional, at the end of the focus on patience, we were asked a few questions, one of which was: “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how would YOU rate your ability to be patient?  What would you do to improve your score?”  THIS, invoked great discussion for Mark and I, (love that man!) The first thing that came to mind for me was, ‘Tangled Hangers’, NOTHING makes me more frustrated then tangled hangers, at times I am sure I may lose my salvation over the anger that quickly rises within me, when I reach for one, ONE thing,  they tangle and others come tumbling out and fall to the floor.  ALAS, my score ‘might’ hit a 1 1/2 at that point.  This imagery has been with me this pass week or so, asking how can I ‘get out of the frustrated arena, easily reach and not get tangled?’  Isn’t it true of our lives at times, we are SO busy, our mind so full, that when we ‘reach’ for one thing, the thing needed or wanted, it all comes imagesHA97KYCZtumbling down.  To answer the question, “How can I increase my score?”  CLEAN OUT THE CLOSET!  (I know, DUH!)  The same is with our lives, clean out, get rid of, grow pass all the ‘stuff’, so when we (or God) reaches for something, it is ‘well with our soul.’   We don’t fall to pieces, it is easier, accessible and we get to keep our salvation (just kidding).

Thank you God for being so very patient with us, willing to allow us to grow and learn.  Move – ACT in and through us, we invite YOUR attribute, we welcome YOU, may Your Spirit help us, with … us.  May we this week, sense Your whisper as we reach, granting us the strength and wisdom to clean out the ‘stuff’, make life easier and not so cluttered, reducing our frustration.  In Your most powerful and loving name, Jesus. Amen”

Tangled hangers – no problem.  God.

In Him, DeDe  (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Revelation Vs Resolution

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As the calendar takes on a new year, we flip through the photos, whether it be puppies, golf images or as mine hangs proudly … Tropical sandy beaches. The empty squares indicating days yet to be lived, those 12 pages can either propel us or paralyze us.

The change of the new year has traditionally become a ‘re-setting’ if you will of our life compass. We evaluate the past and plan for the future. For some of us, this enfolds sitting down writing out our Resolutions. Money to be made, exercise routines to be eventually avoided, diet plans for hopes of a ‘new me’, buy that new house, get that promotion, start that new reading plan. Don’t get me wrong, these are all good plans of a attack for the new year. However, have we considered that instead of a resolution to do better, get more, perhaps be something other than we are, that we seek … revelation?

Recently I have again revisited ‘grace’ and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Grace, not only is it a most beautiful word, but a powerful element within the Kingdom of God. Paul uses it in many greetings and closing words, “… grace and peace be yours in Christ Jesus…” I will not share the potentially boring geeky religious or theological information to pack our heads with more ‘stuff’, but I will do as the Holy Spirit has with me recently, massage your heart with God’s love.

Grace, ‘unlimited kindness and mercy of God freely given to the undeserved.’ Now if THAT does not spark something within  you, then let me say it again in a different way and personalize it.

GRACE, the absolutely free expression of loving kindness and favor of God given to me when I do not deserve it. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God…”  When I make a mess of things or do not have it in me to go on, or my footing is somewhat not sure, or the next moment of my life needs to be lived … He is. His love for me, protects me, guides me, sustains me and opens doors for me. He gives me wisdom beyond my own intelligence, understanding that amazes this old gal and basically He is all that I am not.  His plan, (or might I risk saying) His resolution for me is found in Jesus Christ,  I can not NOT be anything but victorious. Grace.

Faith puts us on the tracks of grace. Remember in the Indiana Jones movie, when Jones is indianajoneslastcrusadestepoffaithin pursuit of the ‘holy cup’ of Christ?  (Play short movie clip now in your mind) In the journey, he travels through tunnels and passages ways and ultimately comes out only to find a HUGE ravine between he and the entry way to the cup. Soon he has the revelation that the ravine is ONLY a deceitful image. Taking a handful of sand, he tosses it across the ravine to find a clear path to the cup.  He stands, extends one leg, closes his eyes and by faith take that first step across.

I know this is a poor and perhaps silly illustration, but for me, faith is picking up the sand and tossing it across our ravines … grace is the ability to walk across and keep walking. Daily there are many forms of ‘ravines’ to be crossed… DAILY He is there to get us through to the other side with an unbroken and immense supply of more grace. Jesus says “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) How many of us are weak? How many of us this last year have grown tired in spirit and soul?

As we stand at the door of 2015, may we truly position ourselves to seek a fresh revelation of Jesus. Learn more of His love, trust His hand and bow more in gratitude of the mercy He extends by withholding what we deserve and the grace He freely gives with His favor spilling all over us.

I pray over us as Paul did, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and alohathe fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14)  The divine Trinity at Their best!

From our home to yours, Happy New Year, be blessed beyond …

In Him, DeDe & Mark ( “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

Inspired Fountians Website: https://inspiredfountainpen.wordpress.com/

Peace is a Person

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Christmas. Just the word alone brings a soft glow to the soul. Images of lights, man in a red suit, baby in the manger, faint sounds of jingle bells and shiny ribboned gifts under the tree. Now let’s throw in a cozy fire, soft quilted blanket, cookies and Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey yelling “Mary!” as he runs through the old drafty house, playing on TV. A peaceful experience.  Peace.

18714_529821830362309_645176695_nChristmas peace, Luke 2:14, when the angel appears to the shepherds, he pulls in the backup singers for this declaration, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, on whom his favor rests.” Not only was God gettin some glory, but peace had come to earth. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Sound familiar? “A baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

This New Testament word, peace,  ‘eirene’ (i-ray-nay) meaning as O. T. shalom does, prosperity, quietness and wholeness. But it literally means ‘to set at one again.’ The word picture is this: picture if you will something of great importance has been toppled over, with it down, effecting life as we know it,  chaos, frustration even unrest. When it is erected again, (set at one) then all is well when it is in its place. Remember Adam and Eve sinning in the garden? Thanks guys! The original design, ‘God and man’ had been ‘toppled over.’ Gone were the days of daily walks together in the garden. Jesus came, setting things back in the right place.  God and man in right relationship.  “The Word became flesh (Jesus) and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (emphasis mine) It may not be the Garden, but God again walking with us. Emmanuel, oh IMG_3773the ‘with us’ of God!  Peace is a Person.

One of my favorite Christmas carols, ‘Hark the Herald Angels sing’, such theology dripping from these song: “Hark the herald angels sing “Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled.” Jesus, Peace, God back on earth, setting things right again. God and sinners reconciled.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, (set at one again) 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Eph. 2:13-18) Please read that verse again, slowly. We are now back where we were originally designed to be, full access to God, able to come into His presence.  Paul declares this point … “Since we have been justified through faith we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1    Peace is position

There are times in this God following life that even with our love for Him, our appreciation for all He has and is doing for us, we STILL mess up and for some of us, mess up BIG TIME! As a Christian our life seems full of chaos, frustration and unrest, sometimes that is a direct result of our ‘mess.’

Peace the Person, peace the position is ALWAYS available. John strongly shares “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Often this verse is used as an evangelistic tool, and a GREAT tool for the Holy Spirit, however, John did not write this to the unbeliever, he wrote it to the Christian. Many of us think, well I gave my heart to the Lord at the altar, “I’m good with the Big Guy.” Are we? How is our heart, unrest? There are times we don’t have a clue as to why the unrest. Ask as King David did, “Search me O God…” (Ps. 139:23) Then… listen. Address what He tells us.

worshipAs we ‘confess’, we are saying the same thing about it that God does.  It actually means to concede, a STRONG word, admitting that you have been defeated and stop trying to win. WOW. Does that define us or what! I am now in full agreement, I align with what You say God. In doing THIS, we are taking what was ‘toppled over’ returning to the original design and bringing Jesus back to His rightful peaceful place. THIS is a daily thing. We mess up, we get cleaned up. Peace restored. Peace is a process.

This Christmas as we sing and sway with the Hoo’s in Hooville, drink another glass of eggnog, rip open the thin paper off our packages, and read PEACE across our Christmas cards, may we pause and consider whole heartedly, we, mankind have the opportunity to be at peace, restored back to God.  Yes, Peace had indeed come to earth, and He is KING.

Peace is a Person, a position, a process.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” ~ Heb. 10:24)

 

White Elephant it is NOT

Christmas, a time of sharing, loving and gift giving. Ever go in search of that PERFECT gift, not really having anything in mind, but waiting for it to jump off the shelves and literally wrap itself because it is SOOOO perfect. Pause – enjoy the moment, brief that it is. WAKE UP … ain’t gunna happen! However for some of us it is … the hunt!

Regardless of what makes it home with us from the mall, ALL of us have ‘gifts’ to offer. es_3_wise_bigGod given gifts that He asks that we share with one another. Whether that be, the gift of ‘serving,’ your heart overflows with servant hood. Or be it, the gift of ‘encouragement’, how many of us LOVE being on the receiving end of that gift! Perhaps, the gift of a listening ear, or providing an extra place at the dinner table. My gift is being a student of the Word. I dig, dust off, polish it up a bit and share it with others. What is your gift? No gift is too small, or insignificant.

Often we read through the Christmas story and highlight the most spectacular parts, singing angels, “Fear Not” statements, the Star of Bethlehem, and yes the dingy manger. YET, there are some quiet and seem less significant items to be had in the excitement. Consider if you will, the Magi as they prepare for their trek out to find the child to whom the Bethlehem Star belongs. DeDe’s imaginative possible scenario of events: They are packing, dividing up the supplies list, then they come to the gift inventory, gold is given to the first, then frankincense handed to another, ‘O yeah, the myrrh is last’. How would YOU like to be handed the myrrh, and picture yourself bowing low, head to the floor while you offer M-Y-R-R-H (said with an Eeyore deep tone) to the King of Kings! You may think “Dude, why do I have to carry the white elephant gift???” White elephant it is not, one among the triune gifts that are of great value. AH… the gifts, gold, frankincense and MYRRH. Have we ever really thought WHAT is myrrh?

The divine significance of myrrh:
Exodus 30:22-23 Myrrh ~ an ingredient used in the anointing oil of the Tabernacle and the priests.
Luke 7:36-50 Myrrh ~ (myron) perfumed oil/ointment poured over Jesus’ feet.
John 19:39-40 Myrrh ~ used as one of the spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.

Picture now, the Christ child, perhaps two in age or younger, curly dark hair, possibly pudgy cheeks. At His feet, men of wisdom, honor, and royal position now place gold, frankincense and MYRRH. The anointing oil of the TABERNACLE and THE Priest. “The Word stonesbecame flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) The same perfumed oil poured on His feet as a grown man, those feet that would one day hang on a cross and be pierced. The oil added to the spices wrapped around His body following His death.

Myrrh, HOW PROPHETIC.  A new appreciation for the gift?

May we too bow low, offer even what we may think insignificant. Gifts given to Jesus and in Jesus name have GREAT value, regardless of how silly we may see it, or how small they may appear. An encouraged heart, a feed soul, a person no longer lonely.

Christmas gift giving! Follow the Magi’s example ~ Be prophetic.  The gift that keeps giving.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

THE Reason for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Turkey, cranberries, dinner rolls, butter, mash potatoes, gravy, green beans, salad.  Breathe.  Dinner plates, napkins, silverware, glasses, name cards AND centerpiece.  THANKSGIVING!  I love this holiday, FOOD – family – fun.  Ok, I will add … football. (Go Steelers!)   A set time to pause, consider and ponder that which we are thankful for.

Thanksgiving.  There are seasons it may be difficult to pull forward on the shelf of our life something to be thankful for. We may have lost a job, or a loved one.  Or our bank account matches our emotional bucket of strength, ‘empty’.  Yet and yet there IS something to be thankful for. You have a REASON for thanksgiving.  The great Psalm of thanks opens with,  “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good.” (Ps. 136)   The Hebrew language renders a beautiful word picture,  “Give thanks…” offers the idea to confess or acknowledge in reverence and worship with … extended hands.

Give thanks to the LORD for He is good. His love endures forever”  The author found it needful to repeat “His love endures forever” 26 times  throughout the rest of the Psalm.  This Hebrew word love is ‘hesed’ (hay-said).  It is used 248 times in the Old Testament.  Let’s take a look at each one (just kidding).   We know it biblically as mercy, goodness, loyalty and steadfast love,  even … grace.  What a pivotal word.  Scholars find it extremely difficult to translate into English, because there really is not an equivalent word(s). In 1535 Myles Coverdale published the first complete modern English translation, using many of Tyndale’s work,  in it he uses …  ‘lovingkindness’ for the first time.

This merciful (undeserved) love is enveloped in personal involvement and Give thankscommitment to relationship.  Basically it IS relationship.   God is pleased when it is reciprocated “For I delight in loyalty (hesed) rather than sacrifice,  And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”   Our Lord desires faithful love and covenantal commitment.  With this, His lovingkindness is precious (Ps. 36:7)  marvelous (Ps. 17:7) undeserving (Ps. 103) abounding (Ps. 86:5) reviving (Ps.119:159)  satisfying (Ps. 90:14) and everlasting (Ps. 103:17).  God is the God of GREAT attributes and God cannot change – He will ALWAYS be a God of love filled mercy.  (Thankful yet?)

David’s well known and beloved Psalm 23 (verse 6) “Surely goodness and MERCY will follow me all the days of my life” (mercy – hesed)  This ‘follow’ is not a mere tag along behind, but … PURSUIT.  David knows the concept of pursuit.  This Psalm is known to be written at the END of David’s life.  He, once the shepherd, has now/is being Shepherded.  God’s unending – steadfast love full of mercy pursued David, He pursues ….  US!  He is unrelenting.  The divine love of God  is steady – sure – persistent and FULL of refusal to let go.  Aren’t you GLAD He does not let go!   Reason for thanksgiving indeed!  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His love endures forever.”

As we share around the table amongst the laughter and love, the blessings of health and family,  may we too take a knee, raise a hand and  “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so…” (Ps. 107:2)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

 

Speaking to the Corners

 

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Quite a few months ago my husband (fiance’ at the time) and I were on a 4 hour drive heading across Oregon to visit his daughter who is a nurse in Pendleton.  There is plenty of time to watch the scenery speed by, observe the geographical change from plush green, to gorge, to dry, to waves of wheat fields.  Quietly, oh so quietly I sensed the Lord whisper to me, “Speak to the Corners.”  Hm.  Speak to the corners?  Having no idea what He was referring to at first, I asked Him to SHOW me the corners.  Suddenly I was made aware of the circular irrigation systems of the fields just outside my window.  Studying those, I saw the ‘corners’.  Tall green stalks of corn grew lush, all rowed in a circular pattern.  Then there were the dry, almost intentionally forgotten corners of the fields.  Mark and I discussed the waste, how profitable those corners could be if watered and attended to.  Assuming the farmers ‘did the math’ and determined it wasn’t cost-effectivecircular fields to pay attention to the excess. The corners.

Over the course of these last few months, I have prayed about, mediated and asked the Lord to show me the corners of  MY  life.  May I state, “WHAT  WAS  I  THINKING!”  He is ever so faithful to gently (most of the time) point us to things we have tucked back, WAAAAY back into the corners of our life, or corners of waste land,  of no profit in our lives.  Concepts, perspectives, views of ourself and even those of God, perhaps wrong doings, habits or hurts. These potentially residing in the darken corners of our heart and mind.  As I pursued this, I was drawn to 1 Samuel 24.  King Saul is in hot pursuit of David, David and his men are hiding in a cave.  Far back, in the corner (if you will) they sat quietly.  Saul comes in to the cave to … um… ‘relieve’ himself.  Davids men encourage David, “THIS is your chance!  Kill him!” (paraphrased)  Can you imagine the split second thoughts that may have run through Davids mind?  “Yes, you are right, I am called to be King, I end this NOW!”  But NO!  There in the dark corner of the cave, David stealthily crept forward, cutting off the small corner of Saul’s cloak.  In this, David was quickly stricken with guilt, telling the men he was wrong to do so, and they too were not to harm Saul and took it further and revealed himself to the King.  In short, Saul is humbled by the ‘chosen not to’ opportunity by David, Saul genuinely shares with David, “May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today.  I know you will surely be king…” (v.19, 20)

May we too be rewarded well for the choices we make in the ‘dark corners’.  May we consider our thoughts, motives and actions of what is hidden quietly in the corner.  You know what I am talking about, that mindset that we dont DARE share with anyone, that hurt we are replaying over-n-over again, that habit that is so dark we keep it tucked way back, further still.  Again David, he pens so honestly yet full cornerof truth,  “O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.”  – Ps. 139:1-2  He begins the Psalm with ‘You have examined…” he closes with ‘dont stop THERE’, “Lord, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (v. 23,24)

God knows ALL, regardless of how often we try to tell ourselves, “This is private, it is MINE!”  We try to deny the reality of our corners, and tuck it back, yet it keeps untangling itself as if it had arms like that of an octopus, reaching and grabbing,  it becomes a constant fight.  Us against the ‘corner.’  “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.” – Heb. 4:13    In Jeremiah, God gets in their faces, “Can anyone hide from Me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD.”  I have taken to heart this ‘corner’ experience, had to be honest with myself and FACE my corner, asking God to shine His light, Himself on my corners.  It has been painful at times, I’ve had to yet again do some re-adjusting, taking down, throwing away and offering some things in exchange for His healing.  I am considering those dry and not watered places, pushing them forward to reach the ‘growth’ areas, areas cultivated and nurtured, to be productive again.  Peace, such peace.  God is good!

I close with the words of John, the beloved disciple, the guy KNEW Jesus, he KNEW his God: “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!  We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him.  Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.”  1 John 3:18-24 (MSG, emphasis mine)

Speak to YOUR corner, YOUR intentionally forgotten corner.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

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